Senior Mechanical Engineer: Propulsion

Palo Alto, CA /
Heaviside – Propulsion /
Here at Kittyhawk in Palo Alto, we are developing ground breaking all-electric Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft.  They are designed to be fast, small, and exceedingly quiet, taking advantage of new possibilities to free people from traffic. 

As a member of Heaviside’s Propulsion Team, you will be a key contributor to development of our battery electric VTOL aircraft propulsion systems, including work on motors, inverters, actuators, mechanisms, and battery mechanical subsystems. We design/build/test in rapid iteration, so you are an energetic, adaptable engineer who can make sound judgements with limited information. You will work on all levels of the design, from high-level system architecture to transition to manufacture. Your time will be split between design, functional, and reliability testing as we accelerate the future of aviation.

You should be familiar with all, proficient with most and expert at some of the following, in no particular order:

    • Strong 3D parametric modeling CAD experience (Solidworks, NX, or Catia preferred)
    • Strong drafting and GD&T skills (ASME Y14.5, ISO 2768, or similar)
    • Design of electromechanical systems (motors, actuators, etc.)
    • Mechanical design of electric power systems (inverters, drive systems, etc.)
    • Design For Manufacture (DFM) for volume production of powertrain subsystems
    • Structural analysis of metals and/or composites, including test data processing, loads derivation and fatigue analyses
    • Thermal management of mechanical and electrical systems
    • B.S., M.S., or PhD in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering


    • Experience developing and testing electric powertrains, especially drive systems
    • 5 years of experience developing aerospace or automotive hardware
    • Experience designing hardware to environmental requirements such as DO-160, NASA JSC 65828, MIL-STD-810, SMC-S-016, or similar standards
    • Experience with systems engineering methodologies, including requirements development and documentation
    • Experience with design for challenging environmental conditions in terms of vibration, water intrusion, corrosion, and thermal
    • Hands-on experience in leading hardware designs from conceptual design through to qualification into production
    • Experience with MATLAB, Python, or equivalent
    • Strong written/verbal communication and organizational skills
    • Hands-on experience performing sub-assembly and vehicle-level testing, including test plan ownership and model correlation

Within 3 Months You Will:

    • Become familiar with the Heaviside aircraft and battery electric powertrain
    • Help develop ground test campaigns to validate hardware
    • Role ground test learnings into hardware design revisions

Within 6 Months You Will:

    • Take ownership of a powertrain subsystem. Lead support for current hardware while planning and executing new development of powertrain subsystems
    • Design manufacturing processes to increase build rate, reduce variability, and improve build time
    • Help guide architectural discussions for our current and future aircraft
    • Mentor junior engineers on best practices, robust design, and DFM
    • Develop powertrain subsystem FMEAs and write requirements
    • Collaborate with development test engineers to plan and execute hardware development tests

You should be able to work independently and determine the most fruitful direction to move in, while being an efficient communicator, avid documenter, and integrated team member.

You should be able to describe your contributions to previous personal, academic, open source and/or professional projects that you are most proud of.

We welcome you to apply even if you don’t match every requirement posted for this role.  No one candidate will be a 100% perfect match to our description, so if you are passionate about working on the next evolution in aviation and have similar experience to what we are looking for, we encourage you to apply.  Diverse backgrounds and experiences promote innovation and our goal is to build a team that encompasses a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

Please note that as of August 15, 2021, all persons working on Kittyhawk company premises must provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination. Applicants may seek an exception through the reasonable accommodation process.

Our headquarters is in Palo Alto and we offer a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, unlimited PTO days, 10 company holidays, a 401(k) plan with 40% company matching (no vesting period), flight lesson subsidy, education assistance, and company-sponsored social events. For those working onsite, Kittyhawk also offers commuter assistance, and free drinks and snacks.

Kittyhawk provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Kittyhawk abides by applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

Kittyhawk is an E-Verify employer.